SOME might find it a surprising message from a 6ft 5ins former Army commando who has served on five continents.

But Paul Kinkaid’s philosophy is that great leadership comes from caring.

The 47-year-old former lieutenant colonel – who will share his thoughts on leadership at a TEDx conference in November – says he was always motivated by concern for others.

“The reason I joined the military was to defend people who weren’t in a position to defend themselves. Not to go and kill people,” he says.

Raised in Hampshire, he was head boy at Noadswood School in Dibden Purlieu and went on to Totton College.

After two decades in the army, moved to Poole and set up Selfless Leadership, which delivers training based on three central values – generosity, empathy and excellence. Clients have included Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue, the RNLI, the Met Office, overseas governments and individual leaders wanting mentoring.

The business is due to become the Selfless Leadership Group next January after taking on three associates.

“Our central philosophy is great leadership comes from a position of care and if you can look at yourself in the mirror and know that you’ve done it all truthfully from a position of care, then you can’t go far wrong,” he says.

His deepest reflections on leadership began in Bosnia, when he was not long out of Sandhurst and a young lance corporal died under his command.

He had chosen the route which took their vehicle over a landmine, mortally wounding the driver.

In his dying moments, the man began hallucinating and thought Paul was his father.

“He asked me to forgive him, so I told him I forgave him,” says Paul.

“He was 24 years old.

“I reflected heavily after that event and decided what I had done was right, but I needed to know more about leadership. My lesson from that point was to learn as much as I possibly could.”

After breaking his back in a fall from a helicopter, he transferred to the army’s education and training service, eventually becoming head of its training development.

“When I left, it was my choice but I still struggled,” he says. “I knew who Lieutenant Colonel Kinkaid was but I didn’t know who Paul was.”

He worked more on his theory of “forensic leadership” – based on the idea from forensic science that every contact leaves a trace.

“I call them green traces or red traces – positive or negative,” he says.

“We can explore the red traces first, because they leave a really long-tail impact. If I were to ask you about a bad leader, you could come back immediately and give me a very detailed resume of what they did, how it made you feel and how it still makes you feel to think about that.”

Fortunately, the positive green traces are just as easy to leave behind, he says.

“So with just a little bit of thought up front, we can leave green traces behind in our leadership journey.”

All this might sound like a luxury at a time when bosses are trying to shore up the balance sheet and save jobs.

Paul admits we are in is “probably the most challenging time to have a business in operation in living memory”, but says the Selfless Leadership approach helps by considering failure at the outset.

“As a breed, the British are quite optimistic, even in crisis, and so any assumptions we make are generally over-positive. So we run a process of supportive planning where we actively consider failure up front and therefore any plan we make can mitigate against those reasons for failure,” he says.

Investment in leadership, he insists, will help the bottom line.

“Last year, 79 per cent of people who quit their jobs under their own steam did so directly because of a lack of recognition in the workplace. Good leadership, on the other hand, has been demonstrated to enhance employee engagement and as you start to enhance employee engagement, profit goes up by up to 20 per cent, productivity goes up by up to 20 per cent, share prices go up by up to 143 per cent, wellbeing goes up, motivation goes up, staff absence goes down, staff turnover goes down.

“If you go back to that eight out of 10 people who leave, it costs between £5,000 and £50,000 to recruit a replacement. People can’t afford to be bad leaders at the moment. So it’s in your interests to spend a fraction of that recruitment money on leadership development.”

Those expecting their training delivered by a stereotypical shouty sergeant major will be surprised.

“I’ve got to myth-bust. I’ve got to overcome those preconceived ideas that Windsor Davies of It Ain’t Half Hot Mum is about to walk in the room, or the major from Fawlty Towers,” he says.

“There is shouting that happens in the army. That’s done for a purpose, predominantly during some training elements in order to increase a little bit of pressure, but mainly to be heard over a noisy environment or to stop someone making a mistake that’s about to hurt themselves.

“You don’t get the best from people if you shout and the military is but another organisation that doesn’t get the best from people from shouting and barking.”

TEDxSouthampton takes place on November 11. Details are at